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Court challenge keeps St Albans railfreight project alive
THE massively controversial plan for a huge railfreight terminal on Green Belt land between London Colney and Park Street has been kept alive through a last minute legal challenge in the High Court.
Helioslough, the company trying to win planning permission for a large goods yard on a former airfield lodged papers with the court on Monday - the deadline to challenge Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles, who dismissed its appeal on July 8.
The announcement was only revealed this morning after the deadline had expired.
The challenge is likely to be heard in the Queens Bench division of the High Court in a two-day hearing in either January or February.
Mike Hughes of HelioSlough said: “We have not reached the decision to go to law lightly.
"Since the publication of the appeal decision we have given the situation very deep thought.
" We are convinced that the Secretary of State has made the wrong decision and the only recourse we now have, under planning law, is for the court to look at the issues and provide a ruling.
"In the interests of all parties we hope that this will be a short process."
Mr Pickles' decision was greeted with jubilation, not just in Radlett, but by campaigners and politicians across Hertfordshire who fear a rail-connected goods yard on the former Handley Page airfield will be an everlasting blight on the entire south of the district.
They fear a massive increase in lorry traffic on the A414 and other local roads, the industrialisation of attractive countryside, noise, light pollution, and the coalescence of London Colney and Park Street.
The challenge will focus on two aspects of Mr Pickles' decision, which was based on the suitability of a rival site, Colnbrook near Slough.
The company will argue that Mr Pickles misunderstood the importance of that site as a "strategic gap" between London and Slough, and he was wrong to compare the harm caused by Helioslough's proposal to a hypothetical smaller railfreight project at Colnbrook.
Mr Hughes continued: "The Radlett Aerodrome remains an ideal site to develop a strategic railfreight interchange.
"The thrust of policy continues to be to maximise the opportunities to take freight off the roads and switch it onto the railways.
"Our £250 million proposal would make a substantial contribution to this and alleviate road based freight traffic in an increasingly congested part of our country.
" It would serve one of the key areas of London and make an enormous carbon saving.”